The 1st half of the MLB season saw 5 no-hitters, 2 of which were perfect games. We're officially in the midst of a pitchers era in baseball right now. Great pitching tends to beat great hitting, hence, the teams that make post season runs are the teams with the most consistent starting rotations as well as solid bullpens. As we get closer to the dog days of August, the baseball season will begin to heat up. As September rolls around the contenders will start to distance themselves from the pretenders.
I will go division by division and give my take on who will come out on top as well as who has a chance to grab one of those two wild card spots, plus a bold prediction.
Division Winner: New York Yankees
Not only do the Yankees have the best record in their division, but they also have the best record in baseball. I believe that they have enough starting pitching to win the division. There is no arguing the lineup, as they have one of the best in the majors. Also, Joe Girardi manages a bullpen better than any other manager in the game.Wild Card Berth: Boston Red Sox
As bad as they've looked at times throughout the 1st half the Red Sox sit at .500 and are only 2 1/2 games back of both wild card spots. With the two wild card system in place I believe that the additions of Jacoby Ellsbury, Andrew Bailey, Carl Crawford and Dustin Pedroia will get this team to the post season.
Bold Prediction: In previous years this wouldn't not a bold prediction, but with the Baltimore Orioles currently sitting in 2nd place right now it is. I believe the Orioles will finish last in the AL East. I don't like their starting pitching and it doesn't look to be getting any better, barring a trade occurring. If it wasn't for their potent offense at times and their very good bullpen, they would already be in the cellar.
Division Winner: Detroit Tigers
Despite a suspect start to the season, the Tigers have come on strong of late, and currently on a 5-game winning streak heading into the 2nd half of the season. The White Sox currently lead the AL Central but the Tigers clearly have the better team. They have arguably best 3-4 hitters in baseball and Justin Verlander could be on his way to winning a 2nd straight AL Cy Young award.
Wild Card Berth: None
I don't think that a team in the NL Central will claim a wild card spot.
Bold Prediction: Call me crazy, but I believe that the current division leading White Sox will fail to make the post season. Outside of Jake Peavy and Chris Sale, their rotation is nothing to write home about. I am almost certain that Chicago will relinquish the division lead to the Tigers and I have a feeling that they will miss out on the playoff this year.
Division winner: Texas Rangers
Although the Angels are surging in the standings, I think that the Rangers will hold on to win the division. They have arguably the best lineup in baseball. Their pitching, especially the bullpen, has been more than reliable for most of the season.
Wild Card Berth: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
The Angels struggled in the beginning of the season, however, they have played very well of late. Albert Pujols is starting to look like the MVP everyone knows him as. Mike Trout might be the best young hitter in the majors and he's only going to get better. Jered Weaver is back and healthy which will go a long way for the Angels moving forward.
Bold Prediction: Angels OF Mike Trout will beat out Josh Hamilton to win American League MVP, despite missing about the 1st month of the season.
Division Winner: Washington Nationals
It will be interesting to see how the Nationals treat Stephen Strasburg's innings pitched. They may skip a couple of his starts in late August and into September. With that being said, the Nats still have enough starting pitching as well as a great bullpen. Also, their lineup is looking a lot better with Morse back and Zimmerman starting to heat up.
Wild Card Berth: None
Surprisingly, I don't think any team from this division will claim a wild card spot.
Bold Prediction: Against all the odds before the season began, Mets starter R.A. Dickey will win the National League Cy Young award. He is having the year of his life, and his knuckleball will continue to fool hitters in the second half.
Division Winner: St. Louis Cardinals
I think that the defending World Series Champs will win their division this season. I'm looking for Adam Wainwright to have a much better 2nd half of the season. The likes of Rafael Furcal, Carlos Beltran, Matt Holliday, and David Freese will provide enough pop in the lineup to earn the Cards a division title.
Wild Card Berth: Cincinnati Reds
All-Star snub Johnny Cueto is having himself a tremendous season as the team's ace. Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, and Jay Bruce will power the Reds lineup to one of the two wold card positions.
Bold Prediction: Pirates OF Andrew McCutchen will win the National League MVP award.
Division Winner: San Francisco Giants
The Giants pitching will be the difference in them beating out the Dodgers for the NL West title. Melky Cabrera just won the All-Star Game MVP award and he is poised to continue his tremendous 2012 season.
Wild Card Berth: Los Angeles Dodgers
Even though the Dodgers have been awful over the last month, I think they'll be back to where they were when Matt Kemp was healthy earlier in the season. Kemp is scheduled to come off the DL today, and barring another injury he should be able to put the Dodgers over the hump and get them to the post season.
Bold Prediction: The Diamondbacks will trade OF Justin Upton. I don't think they should ever consider trading a player with his ability, but rumors were floating around that they would listen to offers for the young outfielder.